Andre Rieu's Johann Strauss Orchestra in Sold Out Arena Zagreb

Andre Rieu's Johann Strauss Orchestra in Sold Out Arena Zagreb
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November 27, 2022 - On Friday the 25th of November, I had the pleasure of attending the concert of the year and enjoy the legendary conductor Andre Rieu's performance with his Johann Strauss orchestra. The concert took place in Arena Zagreb, which was completely sold out for this event. The performance in Zagreb was part of the Andre Rieu 2022 World Tour, which included concerts in South America and all over Europe.

Andre Rieu and the orchestra

This 73-year-old Dutch King of the Waltz is best known for his performances with the Vienna Philharmonic Crchestra for their New Year concerts. As the name of his orchestra reveals, he finds a lot of insipration in the music of the great German composer Johann Strauss. He has been the orchestra's conductor for over 35 years. The members of his crew come from all over the world. The fourteen nationalities include the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Belgium, even Tasmania. Though the music they play belongs to the classical genre, the overall style in which they do it is a lot more quirky and fun. From start to finish, Andre's comments made the audience laugh, and even the musicians behind him would get in on the jokes. Winking to the cameras, little waves and nods, making faces, they do it all to make sure that everyone has a great night. And they genuinely look like they're having the same amount of fun as well. Even if you're not a big fan of classical music or simply do not know enough about it (like me), the experience is definitely worth the hefty price and three hours of your night.


Set list

The ensemble entered the arena at 20:00 sharp, playing Georges Bizet's Toreadores, setting the tone for the concert and the atmosphere that they were about to ensure. What followed was a mix of tunes which captured everyone from opera lovers to those completely uneducated who were there just for the experience or as a plus one. Giacomo Puccini's Nessum Dorma performed by the Platin Tenors received a standing ovation, while the three beautiful sopranos left the full arena in awe. The Phantom of the Opera was there, and so was Scheherazade. The Berlin Comedian Harmonists also made an appearance, singing Veronika der Lenz ist da, followed by more of their repertoire. Johann Strauss's Blue Danube Waltz (An der schönen blauen Donau) marked the beginning of the end, with all the audience members who had access to the floor waltzing it away, while Radetzky March had the entire arena stomping to the rhythm. The final part of the evening even included the romantic notes of Elvis Presley's Can't Help Falling in Love.


Though all twenty five thousand seats in the Zagreb Arena were sold out, the entrances were well organised and the queues took no longer than 5-10 minutes. The same cannot be said for the traffic in Zagreb, though, which was really busy for a number of reasons, including Black Friday and the first weekend of Advent in Zagreb. As for the organisation of the concert itself, the festive atmosphere was enhanced with fake snowflakes during the first part of the concert, and balloons for the energetic, joyful ending. Drinks and popcorn were served in the lobby before the performance and during the break. Unfortunately, that was it. Sharing the experience with other members of the audience, it seems that the venue did not meet expectations to do justice to the overall mood and aesthetics of the orchestra. With most of Andre Rieu's concerts held in castles and theatrical venues, the Zagreb Arena felt a little cold and basic. 


The verdict

All in all, the experience of going to a classical concert that does not take itself too seriously is a lot of fun, and like stated above, worth the investment. Even that of taking a train in Croatia (50 minutes late on arrival to Zagreb from Vinkovci, only 30 on the way back). The three hours of the concert really flew by, even for someone with a very basic education in classical music. The extra touch of communicating with the audience and even with the Croatian interpreter made it all that much more fun. 10/10, would go again.

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